What are the Symptoms of Worn Tie Rod Ends?
Tie rod ends (steering joints) are an essential part of the steering system on an ATV or side-by-side. When they start to wear, tie rod ends can impact steering precision.
If tie rod ends fail completely, the results can be catastrophic. So how do you know if your machine’s tie rod ends need to be replaced? Here are a few signs that your ATV or side-by-side’s tie rod ends might be worn out.
Does the steering wheel or handlebar have play in it? That’s a pretty straightforward sign that your vehicle’s tie rod ends are worn. If you struggle to keep your ATV or side-by-side straight on solid ground, or if the steering feels loose at speed, it’s time for a closer look. You may also hear a popping sound when you try to cut the wheel or handlebar into a tight turn.
Steering Play at Rest
A good way to perform this test is in your garage, or any place where you can get the unit on flat ground and lift the front end off the ground just a bit. Then, grab one of the front wheels at about 9:00 and 3:00 and see if you can move it back and forth. If you can, the wheel on the other side should be moving in sync. Otherwise, a worn tie rod end could be the problem.
Torn or Missing Boots
Your unit may have a rubber boot that covers the tie rod end. If it’s torn or missing, that means dirt and other abrasives are getting in and wearing down the tie rod end. The boot keeps dirt out and lubricant in. If you’re running in the snow and your unit encounters road salt, a missing boot means your tie rod end could be corroded.
If your machine has worn tie rod ends, don’t wait to get them replaced. And when one steering joint goes, the other will soon follow, so replace them all at the same time.